Are Medical Cannabis Extracts Like Vape Pen Oil Illegal?

Cannabis extracts, also referred to as concentrates, describe concentrated CBD and THC liquid extracts from the flowers of the cannabis plant (like hash oil). These extracts can be inhaled via vaporizers or ingested.

With proper documentation, you can sell or buy cannabis flower extract products in all 50 states of the United States. You are expected to obtain these extracts from the government dispensaries, or through a duly licensed private retailer.

Brief Criminalization in 2018

All marijuana extracts were legal in all states where medical marijuana is legal until June 2018. In a remarkable legal setback to the medical marijuana community in the state, the Court of Appeals of Arizona ruled that cannabis extracts such as vape pen oil were illegal.

The hearing panel found in a 2 – 1 decision that the AMMA (Arizona Medical Marijuana Act) does not address hashish. The majority opinion of the bench wrote that AMMA did not protect the convict (who was found in possession of hashish), but rather protects the use of preparation or mixture of the marijuana plant. Rodney Jones, the convict, and a card holding patient was duly sentenced to 2/1/2 years in jail with credit for 365 days.

Despite many shelves laden with “hashish” in most parts of Arizona’s dispensaries, the AMMA, which was approved narrowly by the state’s voters back in 2010, did not specifically legalize the resins found in cannabis buds.

Rather, the 2010 law simply defined “usable marijuana” that the epileptics and similar patients could legally obtain and use as “dried flowers obtained from the marijuana trunk, and any preparation or mixture thereof, but doesn’t include the stalks, roots, and seeds of the plant …”

This definition came to be a problem because another law in the state makes it an offense to be found with “cannabis, a narcotic substance/drug.” Yet cannabis is also defined as a resin obtained from marijuana.

The resin is also referred to as hashish, or simply as hash oil if it is in liquid form. Pure natural hashish comes with molecules of THC which are responsible for marijuana’s psychoactive effects but can be extracted — mostly from buds, which possess more resin than stalks or leaves — in numerous methods including stripping it, heating it, or squeezing it out with specific chemicals like carbon dioxide or butane. The basic idea behind extraction is very much the same as that of making olive oil from olives — that is, there’s nothing new in the hashish resin or cannabis that wasn’t present in the first or original plant.

It is worth mentioning that CBD oil, which is sold mostly online in all 50 states in the country, is also a near-pure extract of the regular cannabis plant’s resin. The CBD oil would be illegal in the scope of the July 2018 appeals court decision.

The 2019 Reinstatement

On 28th May 2019, the Supreme Court of Arizona Supreme heard made a ruling on a criminal case mentioned above, State v. Jones, and clarified marijuana’s under AMMA. The court would hold that the AMMA’s definition of marijuana includes everything that comes with a plant – the dried-leaf/flower forms as well as extracted cannabis resins.

The supreme court also differed with the state’s assertion that the restrictions spelled out by AMMA regarding the allowable amounts of marijuana patients may possess puts a limit on the use of marijuana to its dried flowers only. The court went on to reason that the weight restriction outlined by AMMA specifically limits the total amount of marijuana a patient can possess legally, but not the form or type of marijuana one should use or possess. The court explained further that qualified individuals are permitted to possess 2/1/2 ounces of dry flowers or general marijuana products made from 2/1/2 ounces of dry flowers, regardless of the weight of the final product obtained from those flowers.

With that ruling, the supreme court reversed the state’s trial court’s ruling, removed the opinion of the court of appeal, and vacated Jones’ sentence and convictions.

So, are medical cannabis extracts such as vape pen oil illegal? No. Except for the be brief criminalization in Arizona back in 2018, which was overturned by the state’s supreme court in 2019, the possession, sale, and use of medical cannabis is legal in all 50 states in the country.

Latest posts